August 17, 2011

Rick Perry, Straight Talker

Okay, it's about trying to create another word bite the Rick Perry Campaign website might find while trolling and raise the Swimmer's visibility a notch. You must understand that what appears, at first glance, like unprincipled bipartisanship really serves a deeper purpose, that of constructive anarchy. I think the USA has crossed a kind of national Event Horizon and is not going to "reform" itself into anything useful for the well-being of mankind; therefore, the ethical approach must be to support developments in America which tend to bring about radical transformation through unconventional methods (not "revolution by force," mind you - no sedition here, or "treason" of the kind that nogoodnik Bernanke might resort to). I cannot think of a more effective way to bring about radical transformation than the election of Rick Perry, noted outspoken Secessionist, as President of the United States.

Thus, to return to the "Bernanke as traitor" meme, first trotted out by Good Ol' Boy Rick a few days ago while charming the corn farmers of Iowa: Rick said, in his usual direct, semi-rational way, that if "that guy" prints any more money before the election that Rick didn't know what they would do in Iowa, but down in Texas they would treat him "pretty ugly," because printing money like that is tantamount to "treason." Now, Rick didn't say "tantamount," because a C+ student from Texas A&M doesn't use ten-dollar words like that. It isn't manly, or necessarily within his syntactical reach. Anyway, on the East and West Coasts, the liberal Nerd-O-Meters started flashing red and the usual academic economists weighed in, leaping to the defense of their fellow academic economist nerd Bernanke. Paul Krugman, always the first in line in any politically correct parade, sniffed that "aside from the ignorance of monetary policy," blah blah blah.

Okay, Perry People, let me set up the lift. I'll even mark it off with quotations to make it easier:

"But Perry was right - Bernanke is printing money through quantitative easing. Krugman, disingenuous as always, is engaging in academic sophistry. In his customary way of pulling the wool over the eyes of his gullible and adoring readership, Krugman is drawing a distinction between the Fed's 'crediting the reserve accounts' of Primary Dealers who sell Treasury bonds back to the Fed in POMO operations, thus increasing the Fed's balance sheet and the monetary base of the dollar, and simply printing money. But the act of adding to the 'reserve accounts' in exchange for Treasury bonds which the Primary Dealers paid actual money for is the creation of wealth out of thin air, as Krugman well knows, and is tantamount [note to Perry Campaign: use Google dictionary function] to 'printing money.' You can't fool a straight-talking, eminently sensible, down-to-earth Texan with such sleight of hand, Perfessor Krugman."

Maybe that can help Perry, and help my underlying cause, the election of a secessionist to the White House (I'm not sure that one has ever happened before). Perry also made some news with his idea of using "Predator drones" along the Tex-Mex boundary (and Southern border generally). He went on to add that he was talking about aiding law enforcement (and the military, which he also wants to use) in "surveillance." He wasn't talking about using Predator drones to blow up illegal immigrants or Mexican drug cartels. (Was he?) Well, I'm not sure. The main use of Predator drones currently is to blow up Aghani wedding parties, as far as I can tell, which must be the festive occasions where the Taliban, or al-Qaeda (what's the difference, they're all Muslims), plan their attacks.

In both of the above examples, the Wily Rick is really operating at two levels. 'Twas said the Bard of Avon simultaneously wrote at four levels, but Shakespeare did not have the benefit of an education at Texas A&M, where simplification was the order of the day. With the Bernanke "threat," Perry is creating distance between himself and Obama/Wall Street/Federal Reserve. The latter troika, of course, is dedicated to preserving the financial oligarchy of the banks and Big Money, and the Tea Party dimly appreciates this conspiracy at their expense. Quantitative easing is a way to pump the stock market while holding down interest rates to, well, zero, thus making sure that old people with savings accounts can't make a dime on their nest eggs (hey, Gramps, just go head-to-head with the High Frequency Trading computers located two nanoseconds from the stock exchange servers -- no guts, no glory!) So Rick is heading that one off at the pass, by telegraphing that Bernanke may face a posse in Fort Worth if he tries that trick again.

With the Predator drone remark, Rick is again having it both ways. If you want to think this former Air Force Captain is advocating blowing up coyotes and their illegals as they approach the border, or blasting away at the gun-drug trade down in "Murder City" (Laredo), then have at it. Ol' Rick ain't gonna stop you. Plus, it gives Rick a chance to draw a nice distinction between himself and the oh-so-careful O Man, who, as noted, has opened his first attacks on the Defense of Marriage Act in areas around Kandahar.

Rick is full of Texas bluster, that's for sure. He scares the crap out of liberals for that very reason. I remain fairly sanguine about the whole thing, however; it's all working out according to plan. Michele (Deer in the Headlights) Bachmann is not going to last very long, even with the adoration of Chris Matthews and other dirty old men. It will come down to Mitt versus Rick Perry at the end of this interminable process of maneuvering, since the media have decided that Ron Paul (who finished in a virtual dead heat with Bachmann in Iowa) has ideas that threaten the cozy power sharing of the military-political-media complex. Paul represents the "reform" path, which doesn't work anymore. Not enough drama. But a Cowboy versus a guy wearing Magic Underwear - that might play on cable. And thus, the die is cast, and the cast is picked.

August 14, 2011

Bachmann Palin Overdrive

I don't really understand what the "Ames Straw Poll" is, exactly, although I assume that it's about momentum in a presidential primary, a way for a candidate to distinguish her/himself ("hermself"? did I just coin a usage, another neologism?). Yes, it's a way to distinguish hermself from the pack, and this apparently is what Michele Bachmann did yesterday in Iowa, by winning the Ames Straw Poll with a plurality vote of 29%.

Michele is, of course, the recognized leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, and as such she is a force to be reckoned with even if, as appears to be the case, at the personal level she doesn't really seem like a force to be reckoned with, if you know what I mean. I toss in the early caveat that I don't mean that as some sort of sexist snark - I get that she's a "tax attorney," and all the rest. Caveats aside, however, if the United States of America elects Michele Bachmann President of the United States, then I must go on record as saying that from that point forward I would not be able to take the USA seriously as a country again. There comes a time, and all that.

Thus, Bachmann's victory in whatever just happened in Ames, Iowa acquires a different kind of significance, a watershed event, another crossing of the Rubicon. The straw poll, one way or other (and the canny Michele, of course, knows this), conferred upon Bachmann the laurel wreath of legitimacy, of Seriousness, and this is the clear and present danger which the country now faces. Particularly with a badly weakened President, whose flagship legislation, his health care bill, just took another torpedo amidships from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta and will soon be struck down by the Supreme Court. With the O Man reeling, with his Irrelevance Factor hitting the ionosphere, the race is wide open. All the Republicans really have to do is play it safe and nominate someone who sort of looks the part, like Mitt Romney, maybe Rick Perry, although Rick Perry most looks the part of a singing cowboy in a John Ford western.

However, the Republican Party is certifiably insane (as opposed to their brother duopolists the Democrats, who are mostly certifiably corrupt), and rational expectations of the party elders no longer determine the outcome. Thus, Michele's victory in Ames comes really as no great shock. Michele, with that rare distinction of a law degree (J.D.) from Oral Roberts University, the largest Charismatic Christian college in the world, although I don't know what "Charismatic Christianity" is, exactly, and I'm too lazy (and too disillusioned) to google it. I assume it's like ordinary Christianity only weirder, and that the kind of "charisma" involved implies some other, off-the-wall meaning of the Greek word, and not the kind, say, that John F. Kennedy had. No, that's definitely what it doesn't mean. A law degree from Oral Roberts is fairly rare because the school only existed between 1979 and 1986 before it packed up its library and reopened as Regent University, another Christer college. But ORU is only one of several Bachmann alma maters, and don't forget her undergrad days at Winona State, where it all began.

However, Michele really owes her opportunity to the trailblazing work of Sarah Palin, who proved that any kind of actual credentials are increasingly beside the point. I don't know what the "point" is anymore, to tell the truth. There is some sort of "brand" or telegenically-driven "buzz" which is now decisive in these matters. It's nothing altogether new, of course, this melding of mass advertising concepts with the political process. The process of selling products and candidates is now virtually identical, and the fact that Bachmann has only been in Congress since 2007, and regards global warming as a "hoax" because carbon dioxide occurs naturally in the atmosphere and could therefore never be a poison or harmful substance, and has a husband who runs a clinic to pray the gay away - none of these factors, which should be absolutely crippling in a rational country, will ever be held against Michele, that feisty, gutsy gal that Chris Matthews just thinks is kinda cute.

It so happens that I've been reading Sam Harris's latest book, The Moral Landscape, which posits the idea, which always seemed true to me, that morals and ethics arise naturally in human society, the products of subjects which neuroscience can now study rigorously, and do not depend on religion or formal, codified codes of other "spiritual" paths. The book seemed kind of dry, at first, till I got to the chapter on "religion," which Sam, in his usual deadeye way, devoted mostly to a detailed demolition of Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the NIH and founder of the BioLogos whatever (some "bridge" between science and religion which Collins insists must exist, somehow), and the loony ideas Collins expressed in his 2006 book The Language of God, where part of Collins's conversion moment (his rededication to the Christianity of his Virginia youth) apparently came about because of the beauty of three frozen waterfall streams he encountered on a hike through the Cascade Mountains. (Three. Get it?) Harris called The Language of God an "intellectual suicide note." Anyway, the appointment of Collins was a previously unknown (to me) example of yet another compromise sell-out of intellectual honesty by the Incumbent-in-Chief.

Be that as it may: The Moral Landscape brought home to me again that my view of America is badly distorted by the Parallax of Nostalgia, as I've called it before. Alone among advanced industrial countries, America is a profoundly theocratic nation, hyper-religious, anti-secular, anti-intellectual, obscurantist, with falling standards of education and quality of life (religiosity is always negatively correlated with quality of life, perhaps not surprisingly, since deteriorating living standards are one of the factors which drive the commoners to an embrace of divine assistance). In such an irrational environment, anything, really, is possible, because it is not constrained by rational thought processes. Religious dogma in, clear thinking out (RDI-CTO). Any criticism of Michele Bachmann, in such a context, can be stood on its head - her naivete and inexperience can be rebranded as "perkiness" or "authenticity," her intellectual mediocrity can be recast as "the common touch." God's Messenger in sling-back heels and a short skirt. Golly, she's got a lot of zing!

Anything can happen. Washington, D.C. might close, the nation's capital moved to some place in the heartland, in Iowa or Missouri, and the White House turned into a museum, to be replaced, on some blue highway off the Interstate, by the White Trailer, in the Congressional Mobile Home Park, sharing a ten-acre parking lot with the local Charismatic Mega-church.

(Note to self: keep studying French re: relocation to Arles.)